Ford Hybrid minivan

Ford to build hybrid-only minivan |

The Ford C-Max Hybrid is a tall wagon that seats five and offers an impressive amount of passenger space. Although its hybrid drivetrain and resulting high mpg ratings are the main draws, the C-Max is also quite practical for family use thanks to its interior layout and wide array of convenience features. Furthermore, its seating position feels more like an SUV than a conventional wagon and offers the resulting commanding view of the road that many consumers desire.

There are a few drawbacks to the Ford C-Max Hybrid, however, such as rather modest maximum cargo space relative to competing models. But overall, we think its combination of high fuel economy and SUV-style seating position should make it a compelling alternative to other hybrids and small crossover SUVs.

Current Ford C-Max
The Ford C-Max Hybrid is a tall hatchback/wagon that's available in two trim levels: SE and SEL. The plug-in hybrid C-Max Energi is reviewed separately.

All C-Max Hybrids are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 141 horsepower and 121 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to an electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. The gas and electric propulsion systems working in tandem produce an estimated 188 hp. EPA-estimated fuel economy is an impressive 43 mpg combined.

Standard feature highlights on the SE include dual-zone climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, the Sync voice-activated electronics interface (includes Bluetooth phone connectivity) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an iPod/USB audio interface. Moving up to the SEL gets you rear parking sensors, heated seats, the MyFord Touch electronics interface, extra Sync services and satellite radio. Key options include a power liftgate, a rearview camera, a navigation system, a panoramic sunroof and remote start. Also available are front parking sensors, an automatic parallel parking system and an advanced power liftgate that opens when you swipe your foot under the bumper.

Quicker than most hybrids, the C-Max accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in about 8 seconds. Solid midrange response on the highway means passing is easy, with a seamless blending of engine and electric motor power. Overall, the driving experience is quite pleasant, with a smooth and quiet ride. Around turns, this tall wagon feels steady and even a bit sporty.

Adding to the sense of well-being is the tall hybrid wagon's airy, spacious cabin. The C-Max offers a massive amount of headroom and fantastic visibility out the front. If you're accustomed to driving around in a small SUV or crossover, you'll likely find the driving position exceptionally comfortable. In addition to its sporty cockpit-like design elements, the C-Max Hybrid also boasts top-notch materials and build quality.

The Sync voice control interface makes it easy to call up your favorite music on the fly, and when you combine it with the MyFord Touch and navigation, you get even more functionality. One downside is that it takes a while to get up to speed with either of the electronic interfaces, which can be a bit unintuitive and have been prone to glitches.

Although rear-seat comfort is excellent in the C-Max (with ample legroom even for adults), cargo capacity is modest due to the intrusion of the hybrid's lithium-ion battery pack. There are only 24.5 cubic feet behind the backseat. Lowering the seats opens up 52.6 cubic feet of space, still short of a typical small crossover SUV or a Toyota Prius V.

Apart from these shortcomings, the Ford C-Max Hybrid is an exceptional family runabout. It's quicker and more enjoyable to drive than other hybrids, yet it's far more fuel-efficient than a compact crossover SUV or minivan.

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